Motivation is a curious thing. It’s natural for it to ebb and flow throughout the course of our careers. There are lots of different factors which can contribute, and shifting circumstance can turn things upside down before you know it. Sometimes the causes are internal – you may have simply outgrown your current role, gone unrecognized for what you do for too long, or find yourself in a field that no longer interests you. Other times, the causes are more external – and certainly with the current global pandemic, the long term economic uncertainty and with a lot of people adapting to working from home, it has been a difficult time. So if you recognise that you’ve come a bit off track, that is an important first step. But how do you right things and make sure that you refind your motivation?
Stop Feeling Guilty
Often when we feel burnt out and overwhelmed, we get a side order of guilt along with it. We feel bad that we aren’t superhuman and that we are not being productive. But feeling that way can lead to a cycle of guilt and inactivity that is even harder to break. Acknowledge that it’s okay – even necessary – to sometimes come to a natural pause, that sometimes circumstances make motivation hard to find, especially in our current unsettled times. Too much guilt is not going to pick you back up again when you’re in a slump. So recognize that guilt in itself is an unproductive emotion that doesn’t help you to achieve anything. Understand that sometimes your body knows that you need a break before your mind does. Move past those feelings and focus on things that you can control.
Bring Productivity Back Slowly
Sometimes baby steps are needed to get you back in the game. If coming fully up to speed again seems overwhelming, start by getting one small aspect of your working life sorted. This could be something very simple, like having a clearout of old paperwork, reorganizing your inbox into the only five email folders you need, or giving your work desk a makeover. Or if you prefer something creative, it could be browsing blogs for inspiration or brainstorming a new idea for a product or service. The point is that doing something – even something small that doesn’t feel very significant – sets a positive forward motion that you can build on.
Make A Plan
Everything starts to feel a lot easier when you have a plan in place – something written down makes it feel like there is guidance. When you’re running your own business, you have to create this guidance for yourself. It can help to revisit your original business plans, and remind yourself of the vision and values you had for your work when you first began. If sales are being a little lacklustre, rethink how you do your marketing. Analyze what you have been doing in the past and what has worked well for you, and don’t underestimate the importance of digital advertising in keeping your brand visible. Perhaps you could create some fresh new content to help customers, and in the process you may just fall in love with it again yourself.
Find A Mentor
Mentors have a really useful role to play in finding motivation. Often, they have been through similar issues themselves in their careers, or they may bring a different perspective that challenges your thinking. Aim to find a mentor locally that you can bounce ideas off and ask for advice – and be prepared to offer something in return, on an aspect they want to learn about. If you can’t find someone, then attending networking events can have the effect of putting you in touch with people who have complementary interests that you may be able to form work-based friendships with.
Keep On Learning
Stagnant feelings can lead to stagnant thoughts – if you put a focus on learning you’ll always be challenged, and that can be a great way to reinvigorate when things are coming unstuck. You can do a lot virtually, through platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, that teaches you rafts of new skills, or even simply watching a few TedTalks or finding podcasts specific to your industry. You may find that you want to take it a step further at some point – or if you have become stuck in a career you don’t like, you could retrain. Not everyone wants to take a distance learning MBA, but for some people it is the right answer. Being exposed to fresh ideas and new ways of thinking can be transformational though, so consider adding some learning to your life.